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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Govt moves on roads

Calcutta, Nov. 26: The Mamata Banerjee government has stirred after a year on the need to widen NH34 — the highway that connects north Bengal to the southern part of the state.

Chief secretary Sanjay Mitra has called a meeting of the state level co-ordination committee (SLCC) — set up more than a year ago to expedite acquisition of land required for widening national highways — on December 5 to discuss the problems that have slammed the brakes on four-laning the highway.

“Only one meeting of the SLCC was convened in the past one year. Today, secretaries of departments like land, PWD, forest and power, and district magistrates of North 24-Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda and North Dinajpur — all are members of the SLCC — have been asked to be present at the meeting,” said a senior official at Writers’.

Senior officials said this would be the first significant step by the government to breathe life into the process of handing over required land to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for widening NH34.

The Telegraph today reported how the state’s hands-off policy on land acquisition has stalled road-widening projects in north Bengal.

“Initially, it has been decided that the state government would take up the acquisition problem of NH34 firstů” the official added.

Senior officials said the government had decided to lay stress on arranging land for the widening of NH34 first as the NHAI has been putting pressure on the state for the past few months. The immediate trigger for the meeting is a missive from Delhi, sources said.

On November 15, a member (administration) of the NHAI, Rajiv Yadav, wrote a letter to the chief secretary informing him that 5 concessionaries engaged for widening of NH34 had mobilised all required infrastructure to undertake the project, the sources added.

The letter has come as a wake-up call for the government as it realised the NHAI would not wait long to get the land by paying compensation to the concessionaries.